Although technology is often billed as a productivity enhancer, allowing us to do more with less, it can also be a major disruptor for productivity as well.

Employees who get hooked on sending text messages, engaging in Facebook banter or surfing the net are having a serious drain on productivity in the American workplace. These are two of the main productivity killers in a recent survey on what’s getting in the way of U.S. employees doing their jobs.

Harris Poll on behalf of CareerBuilder surveyed 2,138 hiring managers and human resources professionals in a number of industries and in companies of various sizes between March and April.

Behaviors of co-workers, meetings and other factors are also creating obstacles to maximizing performance. When asked what they consider to be the primary productivity stoppers in the workplace, employers pointed to:

1) Cell phone/texting (50%) – One in four workers admitted that during the typical workday they will spend one hour personal calls, e-mails and/or sending text messages.

2) Gossip (42%) – That chatter in the office, may not always be about work. And often it is talking bad about other co-workers, managers or outside acquaintances.

3) The Internet (39%) – One in five workers said that they spend an hour or more every workday searching the internet for non-work-related information, photos and more.

4) Social media (38%) – Other studies have found that Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram are significant drains on employee time.

5) Snack breaks or smoking breaks (27%)

6) Noisy co-workers (24%) – These are people who have conversations that are too loud while on the phone, or make outbursts when they get annoyed or upset.

7) Meetings (23%) – Some organizations just have too many meetings and a lot of time is wasted if they are not succinct and to the point.

8) E-mail (23%) – Employees are often busy sending personal e-mails to friends and family.

9) Co-workers dropping (23%) – These are those little chat sessions when a colleague stops by another’s desk for some chitchat.

10) Co-workers putting calls on speaker phone (10%)


So what are employers doing to cut into these bad habits? Some tactics that CareerBuilder discovered employers are using include:

  • Blocking certain internet sites at – 36%
  • Prohibiting personal calls or personal use of cell phones – 25%
  • Monitoring emails and Internet usage – 22%
  • Scheduling lunch and break times – 19%
  • Allowing people to telecommute – 14%
  • Implementing an open space layout instead of cubicles – 13%
  • Limiting meetings – 12%
  • Restricting use of speaker phones in the office – 11%


To avoid wasting time at work, CareerBuilder recommends that workers:

  1. Organize and prioritize – They should to de-clutter their workspaces and clearly lay out their work plans for the week. What do they need to accomplish each day? How much time will each project take? Which projects have the highest priority?
  2. Limit interruptions – Incoming calls and co-workers dropping by to chat about their weekend can break an employee’s concentration and gobble up precious time. If it’s a problem, let employees block off a conference room to work on a project to avoid distractions at their desks. Urge them to read e-mails at intervals instead of opening each one as soon as it comes in.
  3. Avoid unnecessary meetings – Don’t set aside an hour to meet about an issue or initiative that can be addressed with a quick phone call. Politely decline the meeting invitation and follow up with the organizer.
  4. Get personal on your own time – Whether you want to call a friend, take advantage of an online sale or post a picture of your dog on your social profile, do it during your lunch hour or break time or after work.
  5. Communicate wisely – Don’t spend 20 minutes crafting an e-mail to the person sitting in the next cubicle. Save time by walking over to your colleague’s desk. Or if they are in another part of the office, just call them. You can get through a conversation a lot faster than typing an e-mail.
  6. Don’t delay the inevitable – Finding other things to do so you can put off a less preferred project will only end up wasting more time. Don’t procrastinate. Dive in and tackle the task at hand.

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